Former Rockets forward PJ Tucker wins first NBA title with Bucks


Just four months after being a member of the struggling Rockets, veteran defensive ace PJ Tucker is finally NBA champion with the 2020-21 Milwaukee Bucks. The 6-foot-5 forward was traded there in March, once Houston’s fate as a rebuilding team was evident (due to James Harden’s forced swap) and the veterans had little goal.

Tucker came close to winning the title in 2018, when the Rockets led the future Golden State champion by a 3-2 margin in the Western Conference final. But Houston lost Chris Paul to a strained hamstring late in Game 5 and the Rockets couldn’t win a Game 4 without him.

Alongside double NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, however, the 36-year-old has taken the final step. Tucker beat a former Rockets teammate in every round of the 2021 playoffs, starting with Trevor Ariza and the Miami Heat in the first round; Harden and the Brooklyn Nets in the second; Clint Capela and the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals; and Paul and the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.

Tucker didn’t score for the Bucks in Tuesday’s deciding game, but he took six rebounds in his 36-plus minutes and played a tough, gritty defense – as he did throughout his brilliant career. Antetokounmpo paved the way for Milwaukee’s 105-98 (box scoring) victory with a historic line of 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Tucker got his sixth rebound in the final 10 seconds, and appropriately held the ball as time ran out for the 2020-21 NBA season. Soon after, Tucker and Antetokounmpo kissed. Finally, the former University of Texas student and beloved Houston sports figure has reached the pinnacle of professional basketball.

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